UPDATE: Me and Uber Pig are scrapping in the comments, so far I am dominating although he may have a different perspective.
There is a fair case to be made that police around the country have unnecessarily upgraded their weaponry and tactics. The need for armored vehicles and SWAT teams is far exceeded by the number of sleepy burgs taking advantage of Homeland Security grants and military programs to RoboCop themselves. The problem is that hostage rescue and dynamic building clearing are some of the most complicated things any tactical unit will ever do. I discussed the difficulty of this in an Op-Ed for the Washington Times.
A raid into enemy territory to capture a terrorist alive is one of the most complex undertakings we attempt short of space flight. You could call it an intricate martial ballet, but I liken it to conducting a Beethoven symphony with all the players and instruments in free fall, hurtling toward Earth like a phalanx of lawn darts. So many facets must occur in perfect harmony that adding additional complicating factors is inviting failure.
I was talking about Navy SEALS there, but it's even tougher when you take a group of folks who don't do this full time and start using them to do things like serve warrants to non-violent offenders you invite problems and there have been many. The need to justify the cost of a SWAT teams leads to overuse of under-trained teams and you get what that raid map shows, innocent people killed or hurt. That leads me to be somewhat sympathetic to complaints about this from libertarian groups like CATO or Reason.
But this Reason TV piece titled "Cops with Machine Guns" is just a complete pile of crap. They highlight a case where a guy runs away from cops who are questioning him about an ATM robbery, and then when they catch up to him again, he bails again. He ends up getting shot even though he is unarmed, but the cops never had a chance to establish that because he kept taking off. That is not a bright thing to do, and although his death is unfortunate, it was his own fault. Choosing this case to highlight in a piece on police militarization doesn't seem to make much sense, does it?
But that is not what they are all worked up about. Nope, they are up in arms because he was shot with a "machine gun". I know, I know it blew me away that the police were carrying a Ma Deuce .50 cal too. Those suckers weigh 84 pounds. Oh not a .50 cal? Well maybe it was an M-60, 'cuz we have all seen Rambo running around with one of those in First Blood. Nope, it was that notorious "machine gun" the H&K MP5, weapon of choice of the world's elite door-kicking teams for the past decades. The thing is that the MP5 is a freaking 9mm, an under-powered pistol round that the Marines have decided is too puny to even use in their side arm. Again the anti-gun fanatics have fixated on the appearance of the gun, not the facts of its operation. UPDATE: Added from my comments jousting with UP Additionally, would you rather take a round from a 9mm MP5 semi-auto, or a .40 cal semi-auto pistol or even a .38cal wheel gun? I will take that "machine gun" any time. End UPDATE
The MP5 is really just a semi-automatic pistol with a stock and a slightly longer barrel. It is no more a machine gun than a Humvee is an M1 tank. But don't let those pesky facts get in the way of your crusade against guns. We can just amend that 2nd Amendment to the right to carry muskets, but without bayonets, 'cuz those make the gun look too scary.